ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A woman who lost both of her legs from COVID-19 complications returned home earlier this month.
Claire Bridges said she wants to inspire others to "never give up."
"As cliché as it is, just don't give up because you will get through it. I mean there were points when I thought I was not going to make it. I mean, I died more than 3 times, almost died," said Bridges.
Bridges contracted COVID-19 in January. She said her main symptom was severe leg pain. She was hospitalized at Tampa General Hospital. Doctors had to amputate both of her legs after complications from the virus.
Bridges was born with aortic valve stenosis, a condition where the heart's aortic valve narrows.
"They think it attacked my heart and obviously, the heart controls everything so it led to poor circulation in my legs," said Bridges.
Bridges spent two months hospitalized. At times, she was on a ventilator and on dialysis for her kidneys.
"I could look at it in a negative light. I mean, it's terrible that I lost my feet, but I lost them. They can't save them and in order to save me, they had to take them off so yeah, I was like 'I'm getting bionic legs,'" said Bridges.
Bridges celebrated her 21st birthday earlier this month. She was surrounded by friends and family.
"I was so happy to be around everybody at the same time, kind of brings some normalcy back," she said.
Bridges is going through occupational and physical therapy. She is hopeful for the future.
Earlier this month, 50 Legs, a nonprofit organization, raised money for Bridges during a fundraiser at the Dog and Parrot Pub in Indian Shores. The organization raised money to get Bridges prosthetic legs.
The community is also raising money through a GoFundMe page.
Bridges is grateful for the support and love around her.
"I definitely am going to rock climb. I'm going to hike the Appalachian. I'm going to go back to modeling. Everything's going to be a new normal and I am grateful for that. I think this was a gift in disguise to humble me."
This story was first reported by Julie Salomone at WFTS in Tampa, Fla.